I run a do it yourself website building and hosting system for small businesses at http://pagebuzz.com for $10 a month. Most of our customers are small businesses and home based businesses.
In many cases, the website is the only sales component of their business. With 100% of their sales being generated by their website costing just $10 a month. Many of these home based e-tailers are making upwards of $20,000.00 a month in sales.
While many of our busineses have trade show schedules, fairs and even brick and mortar stores that use the website to increase sales.
The cost is so low you really cannot afford not to have a website. It does not really have to generate much to pay for itself.
I have one landscaper that got a website and just figured it was the thing to do because so many people asked. This is a guy that spend days running a backhoe, trimming trees and getting down in the dirt all day. He did not expect anything from the website other than a point of contact.
He posted a photo gallery of the current jobs and all the customers sent their friends to see their landscaping and the progress at their homes. That led to new jobs and referrals and had to hhire 3 more people to keep up.
In todays market, you need more tan just a phone number. A website good or bad in design will have a major impact on your business if you give it a chance.
A website is a great (and economical) way to start a business when compared to alternatives. Unfortunately, many people think that the existence of website means they will generate revenue. The second, and arguably most important aspect, is promotion. Marketing a site today, you have many options. Pay-per-click, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media... etc
A website can be a great thing, but only if it fits into your business model. Ask yourself these questions, "How will this website help grow my business?" "Will a website increase profits, increase awareness, etc.?" "What will my website entail? Online shopping? customer service? Product info?" These are questions that will help you decide if a website is right for your business. With that said, I do think that most businesses will benefit from a website if done properly. Make sure that it is marketed properly (SEO, website on business cards and print ads, etc) otherwise it will just sit there eating up your time and money. I always tell small business owners when looking for a website to look for the most affordable price with the best uptime and service that way you will be able to invest more into web design/content. One host that I recommend is http://www.TheBlueKingdom.com - they have plans at $3.99 with plenty of great add-ons for marketing/commerce. Good Luck! Hope this helps!
Starting with a website is great but only if it's handled well, I know a former client of mine with a major horror story to prove my point. She got in with a company that offered everything she needed they were going to host her site, provide her with business help, everything you could think of was provided even hosting, but amlost a year later all she had was a basic understanding of where they screwed her and almost $7000 dollars extra debt. Moral of the story? if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.